donne Guinea-Bissau

Women represent 51% of the population of Guinea-Bissau and they are the majority of the workforce. They support families and communities, but they are not sufficiently defended and represented in society. Very often, they are victims of human rights violations: premature and forced marriages, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, abuse, violence and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Being a woman in a Guinean family means having a difficult life. Most live in extreme poverty and have to sell vegetables, fish or clothes on the streets to feed their families and provide education for their children. To ensure a certain well-being for the family unit they work hard every day. Unfortunately, this same situation is repeated in other countries and cultures also. Guinean women find many other women in the world who, like them, are often exploited, excluded or reduced to the margins of society.

In different countries where we are present, we, the Missionaries of the Immaculate, work to defend life where it is threatened, focusing on women’s development programs and offering them different types of formation. We try to find ways to raise public awareness on the various cases of violence, in particular sexual, physical and psychological harassment and abuse in the family, in schools and in the workplace.

donne Guinea-Bissau

Here in Mansoa, we accompany a group of women and girls who come to learn to sew and dye fabrics and clothes. We want to help them to increase their self-esteem and guarantee them an income that comes from their own earnings so that they can support their families.

This year we also explored the idea of starting a small cooperative to produce local crafts, perhaps it will make a small difference, but still be significant in the lives of the women and girls who rely on us with so much hope. I believe that the small effort of ours will help improve women’s lives and reduce the disparities that exist in Guinean society, dominated by a chauvinist mentality.

To celebrate Women’s Day and its immense contribution to society, it is necessary to promote and support the process of change so that the rights of men and women are equal and respected. Defending women means defending life! The challenge is great, but animated by hope, we fight with them for a more just and united society.

Sr. Vinnarasi Jacob, Guinea Bissau.

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